Secret biolabs cause tension in Frederick, Maryland

While the Containment Laboratory Citizens Advisory Committee attempts to act as a liaison between Frederick, Maryland, residents and the local laboratories, state law mandates that the location and number of the biological agents remain confidential.   

These high-level containment storage facilities and laboratories are located just beyond the secure gates of Fort Detrick. The scientists in the labs study biological pathogens like the West Nile virus and anthrax, Gazette.net reports.

"Companies obviously have the right to keep their proprietary information to themselves,” Beth Willis, chairwoman of the advisory committee, said in an e-mail, according to Gazette.net. “But communities and local governments have a need to know about activities that could impact health and safety. That's basic. I don't understand why this information is not available to the public. The [advisory committee] needs to find out a lot more about this."

For the information to be made public, the Maryland General Assembly would need to change the current state law that states such “select agents” are only discussed with local law enforcement, county health officers and emergency management directors.

"People who are on the edge or fringe groups could take advantage of that information and endanger people more than the facility that is working with these agents,” Lt. Dennis Dudley of the Frederick Police Department and the chair of the Local Emergency Planning Committee said, according to Gazette.net.

Previous complaints have been made by the committee with regards to secrecy, because although there are two labs working with select agents in Frederick, lab officials have only named one of the labs. The other has continued to remain secret.

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